Hit Reset – The Julie Ruin

In 2016, American garage-rock band The Julie Ruin released their second album, Hit Reset. This hidden gem is reminiscent of lead singer, Kathleen Hanna’s days in Bikini Kill and the Riot-grrrl movement, while staying on point with the cultural, social, and political aspects of life in 2016 to 2018. After releasing a solo album under the alias of Julie Ruin in 1998, Hanna decided to make the band a full time project. In 2010, The Julie Ruin was formed in New York City by Hanna, Carmine Covelli, Sara Landeau, Kathi Wilcox, and Kenny Mellman.

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Hit Reset was received well by music sources and critics, and received an 8.2 out of 10 in a Pitchfork review, making it clear that the record is definitely worth listening to. Since the music falls into the punk-sphere, the album is not commercially known due to the popularity and demand for pop and rap music. I had never heard of Hit Reset or The Julie Ruin until just a few weeks ago, and I consider myself musically diverse, especially in the rock world. After listening to the album on repeat for a few weeks, I’m positive that everyone in The United States needs to hear it. They need to hear Hanna screaming, and feel her pain, and realize her triumphs with her.

I believe that music is powerful, in any capacity. That’s why it makes me upset when pop music on the radio is mindless and inappropriate. Musicians have a huge platform and they should use it to promote positive messages, and stories about their lives that people can relate to and learn from. Hanna uses Hit Reset to tell her story, and I think that people would gain a sense of empathy towards people by hearing this record. By traveling through Hanna’s journey, listeners are able to share her experiences with her, and feel for her. In a review from Pitchfork, the album is described as “The chance to tip her experiences onto a sterile surface and assess each memory’s impact before dropkicking it into oblivion; the kind of process that’s often only possible when you’ve looked death in the face. It’s Hanna’s most personal work” (Snapes). Hanna proves her power and “she triumphs at every decibel” (Powers).

Hanna has Lyme disease and has been battling it for years. It has forced her to take time off from making music, but she has never backed down from a fight. A review from NPR Music describes Hanna as “both the dissembled survivor and the furious avenger” (Powers). In 2013, a documentary titled “The Punk Singer” was released about her life, and that experience rings through Hit Reset. When I first listened to the album, I was a little conflicted. I was immediately reminded of sounds from the 90’s, and of my best friend. My best friend from home has a voice kind of similar to Hanna’s, being that it isn’t perfect or pristine. It’s not technically good, but it’s interesting and passionate. There were songs that I didn’t like at all, such as “Be Nice”, because I couldn’t understand the lyrics through Hanna’s frenzied screams. I’ll be honest, I got a little bit of anxiety as I listened to the album for the first time. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, but the music was definitely anxiety inducing.

I’d listen to this album when I’m pissed off. Maybe I’d be in my room or driving home from work, but this is the kind of music you listen to when you’re so angry but you may not know how to express the anger in a constructive way. This makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs, kick things and cry until I calm down. I think that it’s important to feel those emotions every once in a while. Emotions make people human.

While we have learned in class that the Riot-grrrl movement was not perfect, I think it was a great place to start in terms of getting everybody to notice women, see them as legitimate human beings, and understand that every woman is equal to every man. The Riot-grrrl movement only encompassed straight, white, middle class, women, and the documentary is pretty reflective of that. It seems as though most of the women interviewed and showed in the film are white and supposedly middle class (They all met in college, so they could afford a college education). Women of color, transgender women and men, and members of the LGBTQ+ community also needed a voice, as well as members of lower classes. It is unfortunate that so many people were not included in the Riot-grrrl movement, but it is understandable that the very first step in a movement is not perfect. There is no possible way for something to be perfect upon conception, but the important thing is that a first step was taken.

Hit Reset is reminiscent of 90’s punk, and combines techno-rock influences with classic punk attributes such as fuzzy guitar riffs, strained vocals, and manic rhythms. At first listen, tracks can be split up into two categories. The first kind of song you’ll hear on the album is wild, all over the place, and frenzy-inducing. These songs mimic classic punk and bring about a manic style. The second type of songs are almost monotone sound, following one rhythm, have repetitive lyrics, and could be classified as punk ballads. After listening to the album a few more times, it is obvious that each song follows a similar style that is unique to The Julie Ruin. The “New-wave romp didn’t lack energy, some of Hanna’s lyrics were unusually tentative” (Snapes). The album is cohesive, and follows Hanna’s experiences and thoughts as a female artist.

There are a few running themes that are apparent and maintained throughout the album, and tell a story. Love, being feminine, feminism, and identifying as a dreamer, can be found woven throughout the lyrics of each song. While Hit Reset cannot necessarily be considered a rock-opera like The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers or The Who’s Tommy, it definitely follows a theme and tells stories. The lyrics all seem autobiographical and personal, even in the songs where many of the lyrics could not be understood. They still felt unique and distinctive, because  “Hanna faces down the abuse she’s suffered in her own life” (Powers). Half of the songs, such as  on the album sound manic, and anxiety inducing. The lyrics are screamed with a high-pitched-frenzy and the instruments are all over the place, creating a craziness. The other half of the songs, such as “I Decide” and “Time is Up” sound almost monotone and flat, but not boring by any means. They seem so much calmer than the other songs on the album. Both of these styles work together to create a unique record.

A song that immediately stood out to me on the album was “Rather Not. It sounded so familiar, and I could have sworn that I’d heard it before.I think that my subconscious knew it was a song I personally needed to hear. The low, catchy bass and guitar riffs that are continued throughout the song are reminiscent of Pixies’s “Here Comes Your Man, and they compliment Hanna’s unique vocals perfectly. Hanna’s voice is one-of-a-kind. She’s no opera singer, but in her context and situation, there is no other way these songs could sound and still have the incredible weight that they possess. With lyrics that are pointed and deliberate, “Rather Not follows a disastrous relationship that has ended. Although there is significant history, Hanna sings about throwing all of that history away for the sake of moving on and feeling comfortable and alive again. She sings “If you love me I’d rather not know” over and over throughout the song, which resonates with anyone who has fallen out of love and the relationship keeps coming back to haunt them.

Another interesting song is “Mr. So and So”. It starts with a catchy guitar riff and then Hanna comes in with a monologue. The lyrics up until the chorus are spoken as a speech, detailing an awkward and inappropriate encounter she had with a male fan. When the chorus starts, the lyrics echo “You can’t say goodbye until I get my hello. Mr. So and So. It’s all just for show.” It’s heartbreaking and makes me angry to hear about the uncomfortable things male fans have said to her.  “Mr. So and So” is “an anti-ode to an entitled male fan” (Powers) that allows listeners to feel the same disgust that Hanna does.

 

Works Cited

Powers, Ann. “Review: The Julie Ruin, ‘Hit Reset.'” NPR Music, NPR, http://www.npr.org/2016/06/30/480605934/first-listen-the-julie-ruin-hit-reset. Accessed 2 Mar. 2018.

Snapes, Laura. “The Julie Ruin Hit Reset.” Pitchfork, Conde Nast, 16 July 2016, pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/22073-hit-reset/. Accessed 2 Mar. 2018.

-Swaggie Maggie

Album Excitement 2018

We are less than a month into the new year and we already have new music to be excited about! 2017 was a great year for music, but I’m betting 2018 can top it. As of now, there are already a few albums that have piqued my interest and I can’t wait to hear them in full when they are released! Here are a few albums I’m most excited to listen to in 2018.

  • IMG_6684Dashboard Confessional – Crooked Shadows February 9

    • I’ve been a casual fan of Dashboard Confessional for years, but once I saw them live this past summer I became obsessed! As soon asI got home I decided to listen to their entire discography and began wishing for new music. They have released two singles from the album, “We Fight” and “Heart Beat Here” and fans are more than ready for the album todrop tomorrow!
  • MGMT – Little Dark Age – February 9

    • Again, as a casual fan, I learned about MGMT’s new album in one of my classes this semester. I was a huge fan of their song “Kids” and when I heard about their upcoming album I got excited! Catch MGMT performing at a slew of festivals this summer.
  • Moose Blood – I Don’t Think I Can do This Anymore – March 9

    • I love Moose Blood and listen to them anytime I feel like I need a good cry. Their emotional expertise comes through in their lyrics, and their instrumental ability is amazing. I can’t wait for this album to come out!!
  • Jack White – Boarding House Ranch – March 23

    • Jack White is a Michigan Native, so I’ve been listening to his music since I was a kid. He recently announced his upcoming album and accompanying tour, which always brings excitement to residents of our state. I always feel a sort of pride for all Michigan Made musicians. There is some conversation surrounding his tour, seeing as he’s pushing for fans to check their phones at the door and go technology free.
  • The Vaccines – Combat Sports – March 30

    • The Vaccines have made their way into every single one of my playlists since I was a senior in high school, so I was obviously excited when they announced new music. So excited that I actually chose to study the release of Combat Sports for my music production course!
  • The 1975 – Music for Cars – 2018img_3403

    • While we don’t have a confirmed date for the album, The 1975 have been teasing Music for Cars on their social media accounts for the past year. The third, and final installment of The 1975 era is sure to be their greatest yet! While I’m definitely sad that this final album marks the end of one of my favorite bands of all time, I’m happy that I’ll at least have one more record to play on repeat.
  • Kanye West – Turbo Grafx16 – TBA

    • Okay, so nobody actually knows when Kanye’s newest album will drop, and it may not even come out in 2018, but I’m still excited about it!

So there are the albums I’m most excited for this year! Are there any that I should check out before these drop? Let me know in the comments!

-Swaggie Maggie

One Way Trip – ALPHA

I’ll let you in on a little secret, seventeen-year-old Jai Garcha aka ALPHA is the next big thing. A year ago he embarked on a mission to create an emotionally charged, debut visual EP that chronicles the serious issues he has had to face in his youth. One Way Trip features edgy songs are backed by RnB and urban sounds with smooth vocals.

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I spoke to Jai about the most important part of the creation for this EP and he gave some great insight into his process. “One Way Trip revolves around this idea of life and the time it’s made of being a continuous, unstoppable motion. I have always been interested in how this affects the lives we lead in terms of the decisions we make and the things we aspire to be.”  Take it from me, you do not want to sleep on ALPHA! He is so young and already tackling real-world issues through his love for music. He is also creating a new standard for young artists. It isn’t as simple as having the talent anymore. In today’s ever-evolving creative community you have to be talented, driven, passionate and have a unique vision. ALPHA has all that and more.

One Way Trip consists of 5 songs that were produced by Jai’s own production company, Alpha Bravo Studios, and features other upcoming artists from London, Cambridge, and Hertfordshire. Upon recalling the physical process of writing and recording the tracks, Jai realized that “through spending hours with some beautifully talented people, and spending hours alone in the studio I found that my narrative was being shaped by the process of making the EP itself.” Each of the songs has an accompanying short film and they do not disappoint. One Way Trip will be available on all major music streaming services including Apple Music and Spotify on the 18th of November, so make sure to check it out!

-Swaggie Maggie

 

So You’re Trying to Meet Your Favorite Band

They’re just like you…only they’re famous. They’re your favorite band and you’ve been dying to meet them. They finally announce a tour and you’re ecstatic when you see your city listed amongst the stops. You save your money to buy a ticket, but then what? You’ll only meet them if you’re willing to put in the effort. We all have favorite bands, and you’re not telling the truth if you say you’ve never wanted the chance to have a personal conversation about specific lyrics with their lead singer or talk skills with their drummer. Here are some tips on meeting your favorite band!

 

Avoid “Annoying Rock Star Behavior”

The first thing you need to do is make sure that they’re cool with meeting fans. As unfortunate as it is, some bands are notorious for not wanting to talk to fans after their show. This may come off as annoying rock star behavior, but it’s definitely understandable; they’re tired, they’re trying to pack up, and they’re off to the next city. Just make sure they’re comfortable hanging out with fans before starting a line outside their tour bus. I’ll try to say this in the least-creepy way possible, but you need to stalk their Instagram. Seriously, just check their tagged photos. If they’re tagged in a bunch of photos with fans, then it’s a safe bet that they like meeting people after shows!

 

Time to Make a Choice

Next, decide if you are willing to pay for a meet and greet. This becomes a factor with more popular bands or artists because they are in high demand. Personally, I prefer waiting outside a venue for free. I’ve met bands through paid meet and greets, and while they usually come with some extra perks including merch or a private acoustic set, it all feels a little synthetic. You end up waiting in line for a little too long, and once you finally are able to have face-to-face interactions with the band, they’re often brief or cut short due to the fact that paid meet and greets occur before the show.

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A few summers ago my best friend and I were able to meet Taylor Swift on her 1989 World Tour during a meet and greet before the show! While meeting Swift was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, we weren’t able to speak with her about everything we’d wanted to! We actually changed the lyrics to her song “Welcome To New York”, and we were going to play the ukulele and sing it for her. Unfortunately, I had to leave my ukulele outside the meet and greet, and she was never able to hear our song. My advice is if you’re willing to wait after a show, it’s definitely worth it!

 

Stay Observant

The next step has to be done at the venue, so make sure to be watchful! You need to figure out where the band is going to be after the show. Sometimes they meet fans inside the venue after washing up. Sometimes they meet fans outside on the sidewalk. Other times, they want fans to wait near their tour bus. m3To figure out where they’re going to be, stick around after their last song and look to see where a small crowd might be forming. If the venue’s staff tells you that you need to leave, listen to them, because the band will be somewhere else. A few years ago, I went to see Mayday Parade with The Maine co-headline the American Lines tour. After the show ended, my friends and I stuck around inside the venue to see if any band members from either group would come out and meet with their fans. It didn’t take long for Derek Sanders, lead singer of Mayday Parade, to come out and begin speaking with fans.

 

Say “Cheese”

 

My final tip a little superficial, but sometimes a cool picture with your favorite artist can turn into a funny TBT photo if you’re not on you’re a-game. Founder of Style In The Way, a fashion and lifestyle blog, Sierra Mayhew, recalls the time she had the opportunity to meet Jay Z at a football game. “I found out that Jay Z was sitting a few boxes away from mine! I was offered the opportunity to meet him, and though I only knew a handful of his songs at the time, I jumped at the chance to go say hi!” Their conversation was going great and he was down to earth and friendly. When it came time to take a photo Mayhew remembers that her Mom “was nervous and in a rush so it came out terrible. I was half-blinking and looked possessed!” So remember, don’t blink when your photographer takes the photo because it may be your only shot!

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Sometimes though, you can’t do anything to prevent a photo mishap. This past MayI stood outside The Maine’s tour bus with my college roommate in hopes of meeting the band. When it was our turn to meet John O’Callaghan, the lead singer, we werewelcomed with a hug and a smile. I was able to speak with O’Callaghan for a little while before his tour manager told us that we had to take a photo and move on so other fans would get the chance to meet him. Just as my roommate took the photo on my phone, the tour manager bumped into her, resulting in a blurry (but still cute) photo!

 

 

These suggestions should help you feel confident that you can meet your favorite band! While it’s possible and not necessarily hard to meet your favorite artists, it is essential to make sure to follow these steps and remain respectful to both the venue’s staff and the performers. If you keep these tips in mind the next time you go to a show, meeting the headlining act should be a breeze!

-Swaggie Maggie